Top 7 Best Thanksgiving Movies

These are the 7 best Thanksgiving Movies that remind me of family and the adventure of just getting home sometimes.

My Dad used to own a Dairy Queen restaurant In Roscommon, Michigan. His was unique though because he sold burgers and fries, so he was open all year round instead of the ones that only sold ice cream that were only open during the summer.

It was the first time he ever owned a business, so he worked a lot of seven-day workweeks and 16-hour days, but when he was off, he was off.

This meant he would walk down to the video store and rent a bag full of VHS tape movies to watch while my mom worked on Thanksgiving Dinner. We watched a lot of great movies, and his belly laugh was infectious and could fill a room.

These are the movies that make me think of Thanksgiving and watching movies with my dad. 

So, in no short order, here is a list of the seven best Thanksgiving movies and why I thought they were awesome. 

The Top 7 Best Thanksgiving Movies Are:

  1. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
  2. Dutch
  3. Addams Family Values
  4. Paul Blart: Mall Cop
  5. Miracle on 34th Street
  6. Grumpy Old Men
  7. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

What Should I Watch on Thanksgiving?

What made these movies so great was their ability to connect with the audience. They are about coming home again, connecting, food and family.

John Hughes the ultimate 80’s director, producer, and screenwriter actually made three of the movies on this list. His ability to write characters that we see in our lives and can empathize with that are genuine is what made him so incredible. Here is what made these movies so great.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

“Those arent Pillows”

Neal Page, an ad exec is just trying to get home to his family for Thanksgiving. His luck turns when his flight is cancelled, and he has to find other transportation.

His bad luck continues when he meets Del Griffith a shower curtain ring salesman who while endearing, never has a lack of things to say about everything.

This story is great because I think we have all met a Del Griffith in our lives. Someone who over shares to much and makes conversation feel awkward and forced.

We can also empathize with Neal who is self-confident and self-reliant at the expense of being compassionate and empathetic to those around him and treating others as just players in his story.

By the end though the story comes together when Neal realizes that Del was lying and he is alone for the holidays and goes back to take him home to his family.

John Hughes did great turning a road trip movie into what the experience of just getting home for the holidays and what that could look like and the obstacles some of us overcome to get there.

One of the greatest scenes are when Steve Martin’s Neal wakes up to ask John Candy’s Del where his hand is in the bed they are sharing? Del says, “Between two pillows”. Neal responds, “Those aren’t pillows!!!”.


“- Dutch Dooley: Doyle, switch cots with me, mine won’t hold me.
– Doyle STANDISH: How do you know it’ll hold me?
– Dutch Dooley: Because I’m 15,000 cheeseburgers ahead of you in life.”

Dutch, a working-class stiff played by Ed Oneil is the boyfriend of a rich tycoon’s ex-wife. She has a son named Doyle played by Ethan Embry. Dutch volunteers to pick up her snobby son and bring him home for Thanksgiving to be with his mother because he loves her and wants to get to know her son.

This is another underrated John Hughes classic that didn’t nearly get the credit it deserved. Dutch is a down to earth, salt of the earth and tell how you how it really is kind of guy.

Doyle is uptight, anal retentive, used to his father’s money and everything it provides without appreciating the people around him that love and care about him. Later we find out that his father played by Christopher McDonald is a philanderer and bitter about the divorce. This is another road trip buddy movie but has a father son chemistry to it that Doyle desperately needs while he and Dutch try to make their way home back to his mother.

One of my favorite scenes is the “pinky ring” scene where Dutch explains to Doyle’s father how much he loves him.

Addams Family Values

morticia: Wednesday’s at that very special age when a girl has only one thing on her mind.
ellen: Boys?
wednesday: Homicide.

In this sequel to the Addam’s Family, the Addams are expecting a new baby Wednesday and Pugsly aren’t happy about the new addition. In the meantime, we meat Debbie who is hired as the baby’s new nanny who is putting moves on Uncle Fester and his money. Later we find out is a serial killing black widow who marries and kills her husbands for their money.

The children try to stop Debbie from getting to their Uncle Fester, but unsuccessful in their attempts are sent to camp to be rehabilitated.

I’m convinced that Debbie is the original incarnation of a modern-day Karen. She is played so convincingly by Joan Cusack.

The best scene in this movie is when Chistina Ricci’s character Wednesday stages a revolt during the Thanksgiving Day Dinner and tells the audience about what really happened that day.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Maya Blart: Okay, next question. “Tell me about yourself”.
Paul Blart: Let’s see. I know a lot about sharks.
Mom: Let me stop you right there.

Paul Blart is a New Jersey mall security guard with dreams of becoming a New Jersey State Police Officer but allows fails his fitness tests because of his hypoglycemia. Paul becomes trapped in the mall he works at when it under attack by thieves who are robbing the stores during Black Friday the busiest shopping day of the year.

One of my favorite scenes is when his mom helps him with his online dating profile intro video and Paul demonstrates his mad Segue skills.

Miracle on 34th Street

“I’m not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and affects a jolly demeanor. You know, I’m a symbol. I’m a symbol of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives. If you can’t believe, if you can’t accept anything on faith, then you’re doomed for a life dominated…”

While you would be right in claiming this is a Christmas movie you would be right, but it begins with the Cole’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and dinner around the table with little six-year-old Dorey, Mother Susan, and neighbor Bryan Bedford. Still though it’s just a great way to introduce the next holiday and give thanks for what we already have. I enjoyed this movie and my favorite scene is when Santa meets a little deaf girl whose mother brings her to meet Santa at Cole’s and just asks if she can sit with Santa. Kris surprises her though by speaking with her sign language and they sing jingle bells together in sign.

Grumpy Old Men

“John Gustafson: You’re supposed to be smoking filter cigarettes.
Grandpa Gustafson: I’m 94 years old. What the hell do I care?”

John and Max played by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are Minnesota neighbors since childhood who constantly argue and antagonize each other over the last 50 years. Until Ariel moves into town and the men each decide to pursue her. Then their rivalry really heats up.

This movie was great and so many one liners. I feel like this I would see these guys having a couple beers a VFW or American Legion in town dressed in full plaid and Stormy Kromer hats covering their ears. I also like how Burgess Meredith plays the dad of Jack Lemmon and still calls him kid

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Charlie Brown: “I can’t cook a Thanksgiving dinner. All I can make is cold cereal and maybe toast.”

Peppermint Patty invites herself and her friends over to Charlie Brown’s for Thanksgiving, and with Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock, he attempts to throw together a Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a classic, what more can I say? I love Charlie Brown’s line about not knowing how to cook except for cereal and maybe toast. This is a great one to watch with the kids and just relax with your family.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you and your family are safe and happy and these movies bring you joy too like when I remembered watching them with my dad.

“May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.” an Irish Blessing